College Football Odds & Market Report: 3 Early Bets for Week 2, Including Iowa State vs. Iowa
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The Iowa Hawkeyes offense.
We all know the college football market moves a lot over the course of the week. Money pours in all over the place from the time lines open on Sunday afternoon to kickoff on Saturday.
Like any other sport, it's paramount to get the best price possible when betting on college football.
For example, a -6.5 favorite could move to -7.5 on Saturday morning and then you run the risk of that team winning by one of the most likely outcomes — a seven-point victory — and you just lost your bet. It could have all been avoided if the bet was locked in at -6.5 Monday morning.
I'm here to help you navigate the market by providing a few lines I'm buying right now with my specific thresholds or other lines that I'm waiting to buy for later in the week.
The hope for this piece is to beat the market, get the best price possible, and in the long run, save you some money with closing line value. To do that, we'll utilize our TAN projections, ESPN's SP+ and my own projections to create a consensus.
You hear all the time, "process over results." The best way to know if the process is working is by closing line value (CLV), meaning how many points did you beat the closing line by? I'll be keeping track throughout the year of exactly how many points we've beaten the market by:
- 3.5 Points: UConn +27.5 → +24 closing line
- Pittsburgh -7.5 → -7.5 closing line
- Cincinnati +6.5 → +6.5 closing line
- Rice +34.5 → +32.5 closing line
- Boise State +3 → +2.5 closing line
Now, let's dive into Week 2.
Louisville vs. UCF Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
So… Louisville goes on the road and loses to Syracuse, and suddenly it's close to a touchdown underdog on the road at UCF.
If you look at the advanced box score, this pretty much tells you everything you need to know.
Image via collegefootballdata.com
Louisville passed the Syracuse 40-yard line five times and came away with only seven points. The Cardinals still gained 6.2 yards per play, but they also turned the ball over three times.
So, essentially everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong for Louisville.
Malik Cunningham's ability as a passer is underrated. Yes, he didn't have a great opening game. But in 2021, he put up a PFF passing grade of 82.7, averaged 8.6 yards per attempt and recorded a 70.7% adjusted completion percentage.
On the ground, his PFF run grade came in at 90.7 (fourth-best in FBS). He led all FBS quarterbacks with 20 rushing touchdowns as 755 of his 1,142 rushing yards came from designed runs, which was also the most in college football.
UCF beat South Carolina State, 56-10, in Week 1, so there's not a lot we can take away from that game.
The Knights have a new starting quarterback in John Rhys Plumlee, who comes over from Ole Miss. Plumlee was a four-star recruit coming out of high school and started a few games back in 2019 but averaged only 6.10 yards per attempt and had a PFF passing grade of 60.1.
So, he's a massive downgrade from what UCF had at the quarterback position last season.
Defensively, UCF has eight starters coming back but loses three starters on the defensive line, including first-team All-AAC defensive end Big Kat Bryant.
The Golden Knights ranked 74th in Defensive Line Yards, 70th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and 118th in rushing explosiveness allowed. That's not going to bode well against a dual-threat quarterback like Cunningham, who recorded 99 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in this game last year.
Malik Cunningham led P5 QBs last season in:
🥇 Rushing Yards – 1,142
🥇 Rushing TDs – 20pic.twitter.com/EAXe20UmhO
— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 12, 2022
UCF opened at a -5.5 favorite and has already been bet up to -6.5. However, I don't see this line getting to +7 by game time, with all three projection models having UCF projected under -2. So, I think it's worth it to play Louisville +6.5 right now.
Pick: Louisville +6.5 (Play to +4)
Iowa State vs. Iowa
|Iowa State Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
You can laugh all you want, but the reality of what this line is saying is that Iowa and Iowa State would be a pick'em on a neutral field, which is definitely not the case.
Let's first take a look at what Iowa State lost from a team that went 7-6 last season:
- QB Brock Purdy — 3,188, 19 TDS, 7.8 YPA
- RB Breece Hall — 1,540 yards, 20 TDS, 5.8 YPC
- TE Charlie Koler — 12.1 YPC, 85.5 PFF receiving grade
- Two starters on the offensive line (only 66 career starts return)
- Eight starters on defense
- Top four tacklers
- Entire secondary
- Offensive TARP rating of -7 (tied for last in FBS)
- Defensive TARP rating -5 (tied for last in FBS)
So, how is a team that went just 7-6 and lost this much production only a three-point underdog on the road against a rival it hasn't beaten for six straight years?
Well, when Iowa's offense gains only 2.7 yards per carry and puts up only three points against South Dakota State, the market is going to react. However, that is not to say Iowa didn't have any opportunities; it just couldn't capitalize on them.
What was positive is how great the Iowa defense and special teams were to give them six opportunities inside South Dakota State's 40-yard line.
Images via CollegeFootballData
The Iowa defense is pegged to be one of the best in the Big Ten this season. It showed that in Week 1 by allowing only 2.1 yards per play and forcing two safeties.
That mainly has to do with the linebacking duo of Jack Campbell and Seth Benson, who combined for 248 tackles in 2021.
Iowa also lost just one starter on the defensive line, so a front seven that ranked 12th in EPA/Rush allowed last season is going to live in Iowa State's backfield.
On top of that, Iowa returns in Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year in Riley Moss and also adds five-star freshman Xavier Nwankpa at safety.
So, a secondary that ranked 10th in EPA/Pass Allowed and 13th in Passing Success Rate Allowed is going to give Iowa State quarterback Hunter Dekkers all sorts of problems.
As you can see, projection models don't overreact to one game, as all three have Iowa projected over a touchdown. There's -3.5 available at multiple books, so I would grab that right now.
Pick: Iowa -3.5 (Play to -4.5)
Virginia vs. Illinois
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Virginia may only have four starters returning on offense, but it's a solid group to have coming back.
Brennan Armstrong was one of the best quarterbacks in all of college football last season. He had a PFF passing grade of 90.3, averaged 8.5 yards per attempt and produced a whopping 35 big-time throws, which ranked fourth in college football.
Oh, he also averaged 7.6 yards per carry on the ground in 2021 and looks every bit as effective as a runner in 2022.
See ya 👋
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) September 3, 2022
Not to mention, he has all three of his top targets coming back who combined for 209 catches, 2,918 yards and 16 touchdowns. All three of them also had a PFF receiving grade over 75.
Illinois allowed 4.4 yards per play to Wyoming and Indiana in its first two games, which is quite impressive. However, Illinois finished outside the top 65 in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, Passing Success Rate Allowed, Havoc and Defensive Line Yards, per CollegeFootballData.
The defensive line loses two starters, but the biggest concern is in the secondary. Illinois has only two starters returning and no starting experience behind them.
The Illini finished 38th in EPA/Pass Allowed last season and allowed Conner Bazelak to throw for 330 yards against them last Friday night.
Armstrong absolutely torched Illinois last season, throwing for 405 yards and five touchdowns en route to a 42-14 win.
Tommy DeVito has shown through the first two games that he's just an average quarterback at best. He's averaging just 6.0 yards per attempt through two games and owns a PFF passing grade of 75.7.
So, if he gets into a high-scoring matchup with Armstrong, Illinois is losing this game.
As you can see, all three projection models have Virginia favored in Champaign. There's currently a +5 available at BetRivers, with the rest of market currently at +4.5. I would grab that +5 now.
Pick: Virginia +5 (Play to +3)